Jatropha – A Highly Promising Bio-Diesel Yielding Plant
It is everyone’s knowledge that the fossil fuels are exhaustible and the known resources will be over within a few years time from now. The world crisis is increasing due to spiraling cost of the petroleum. These factors are leading to find alternate sources of fuels. The potential for using plant sources as fuels is substantial in this regard. They are renewable. There are species, which can be grown even in denuded and wastelands.
The fuels from plant sources are termed ‘Bio fuels’. Most promising bio-fuels in the world include:
Ethanol from plant sources like sugarcane, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, maize grain, etc.
Biogas from decomposable organic wastes like effluents, sugar mill press mud, etc.
Electricity generation from Biomass like sugar mill bagasse, city solid waste and quick growing woods.
Bio-diesel from various oil yielding plants like Jatropha, castor, etc.
Jatropha plantation :
Biodiesel can be produced by a process, called ‘Esterification’, from vegetable oil and fats. Various low value vegetable oils not suitable for human consumption can be used for this purpose. Non-edible oils like Jatropha, Pongamia, Argemone, Mohua, Castor, Salvadora, etc. all can be used for the production of bio-diesel. However, Jatropha has got tremendous potential in the country because of the following reasons.
Why Jatropha :
The plant is a small bush, grows fast and starts yielding from 2nd year itself.
Highly adaptable to various agro climatic conditions. Can thrive well even in adverse soil conditions, hot and dry ecosystem.
Wastelands with gravel / stones, undulated lands can also be utilized.
Can be a profitable in sub marginal dry lands.
Not browsed by cattle
Oil can be extracted easily from the seeds by expellers
Which lands are suitable:
The country is having vast wastelands of over 35 million ha, owned by various departments and private owners. Substantial privately cultivated dry lands are not suitable for producing arable crops. Many of such lands can be economically used for Jatropha cultivation.
What is Jatropha:
Jatropha curcas is a bushy plant belonging to Castor family, grows about 3 to 5 m high. It is a tropical species thrives well in hot climatic conditions. It has been grown in some of the southern states as a border plant along the fences.
It is a cross-pollinated crop and yield starts in 2nd year. Productivity stabilizes in 7-8 years. Economic life can be up to 40 years also if cultured and maintained well.
It is propagated by seeds, can also be propagated vegetatively from cuttings.
In commercial plantations, a crop of Jatropha can be raised as a block plantation at a space of 2-3 meters from plant to plant depending upon the fertility of the soil and rainfall of the area.
Possible yield levels:
If the soils are suitable, it has potential to yield up to 2 to 5 kg seed per plant once fully grown i.e. it can give yield levels from 2 tonnes to 5 tonnes per ha per year.
Oil content varies depending upon the seed filling, maturity, etc., with an average content around 30%. If irrigation is given, flowering continues throughout the year and the matured fruits have to be harvested number of times.
However, in rain fed conditions, harvesting is done after the rainy reason.
The seed cake is poisonous and can only be used as organic manure.
The plant has some limitations. It does not tolerate water logged and marshy conditions. Hence, suitable lands only should be selected; also innovative methods are needed to reduce the cost of cultivation.
Cost of Plantation:
The cost of plants, digging pits for planting and weeding are the costly items of operations. Location specific ideas to reduce some of the costs, as also increase the establishment and growth of the plants are needed to be identified with help of experienced experts. The cost of cultivation per ha may vary considerably depending upon the type of the land, soil conditions, nursery requirements, etc. It may vary widely from Rs.20, 000 to 40,000/- per ha spread over a period of 3 years and the maintenance cost afterwards for weeding, harvesting etc. are needed.
The seed can be sold around Rs.5 to 6 per kg.
Availability of Subsidies:
Central Government incentives in the form of subsidies are also available.
Jatropha oil has been tested successfully in diesel engines by research institutions like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum Research and Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana. The prestigious Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore has fabricated equipment that was capable of producing bio-diesel on commercial basis. In some countries like the US, Malaysia, Austria and Nicaragua, jatropha oil is already being used as a substitute for diesel.
Research shows that use of bio-diesel reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 50 per cent and brings down cancer-causing particulate matter levels by as much as 94 per cent over diesel, the official said.
ur explanation is fabulous.
ethanol is byproduct of sugar. there i feel BAJAJ HINDUSTAN WILL BE THE BEST BET. even in this falling mkt it has cushioned itself btwn 215/185.
IT CAN BE MAJOR PLAYER FOR ETHANOL
CAN u suggest any company for the other by product.